Yersinia enterocolitica produces superantigenic activity

P. M. Stuart, J. G. Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


We have recently observed that antigenic preparations from Yersinia enterocolitica are capable of inducing strong proliferative responses in normal murine spleen cell cultures. As a consequence of this observation, we evaluated whether Yersinia-derived Ag possess superantigenic activity. Stimulatory activity can be found in culture supernatants, as well as membrane and cytoplasmic fractions of Y. enterocolitica. Cell depletion studies indicate that the primary responding cell is a CD4+ T cell, which requires the presence of APC for responsiveness to Y. enterocolitica Ag. Furthermore, these APC must express MHC class II Ag, as evidenced by the fact that either antibody depletion of class II+ APC or addition of anti-class II antibodies (that block class II Ag on the surface of APC) eliminates the proliferative response. Evaluation of TCR usage by BALB/c T cells responsive to Y. enterocolitica revealed that those T cells bearing Vβ 3, 6, and 11 and possibly 7 and 9 were expanded after exposure to Y. enterocolitica Ag preparations. By using a panel of T cell hybridomas, we have shown that hybridomas bearing Vβ 3, 7, 8.1, 9, and 11 but not 2, 8.2, 8.3, and 13 respond to Yersinia. When cytoplasmic fractions of Y. enterocolitica were subjected to column chromatography, proliferative activity was enriched approximately 27-fold, and the elution characteristics of the active material suggest that it possesses hydrophobic regions and is, therefore, probably membrane associated. These data indicate that Y. enterocolitica produces antigenic material that has properties consistent with those of T cell superantigens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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